Friday, May 26, 2017

7 famous poetic speeches by women

Spoken-word poetry is a challenging format for the public speaker. But when used well, poetry in your speech--whether the entire speech is a poem, or you recite just a few lines--adds color and connection to your public speaking.

These seven poetic speeches cover a range of topics and feelings, rhythms and rhymes; many of them use body language as another tool to convey the passion and poetry. They're all included in The Eloquent Woman Index of Famous Speeches by Women, and at the links, you'll find text, audio, or video (where available), along with lessons you can use in your own public speaking:
  1. Tackle football player and poet Holly K. Peterson inspired her "fellow" female athletes with this spoken-word poem and its vivid imagery at a football summit.
  2. Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner delivered her poem at the United Nations Climate Summit. From the Marshall Islands--a place in the path of climate-related sea rise--her poem was both a promise to her daughter and a warning to world leaders.
  3. Dominique Christina tackled menstruation in "The Period Poem," breaking a taboo and connecting with her audience all at the same time.
  4. Lily Myers's "Shrinking Women" shared a personal and uncomfortable observation that embodies the very choices that eloquent women face whenever they decide to speak up.
  5. Ashley Judd performed "Nasty Woman," a poem by Nina Davenport, in front of close to 1 million people at the Women's March on Washington earlier this year. The post includes both Judd's recitation, and that of the author.
  6. Maya Angelou's "Phenomenal Woman," the most famous of this group, is a sassy, confident, loving ode to womanhood, and often used in public speaking competitions since its publication. You'll feel better just reciting this one out loud.
  7. Sarah Kay's "Tshotsholoza" creates a story from a picture, and puts you right in the middle of the action, in the great way that talented storytellers do. A mesmerizing spoken-word poem.
Join me in Edinburgh, Scotland, on October 20 for a new workshop, Add Meaning with Metaphor: Improve your Speeches with the Most Powerful Figure of Speech. It's a pre-conference workshop at the Edinburgh Speechwriters and Business Communicators Conference, designed to help both speakers and speechwriters use this powerful tool. You can register here for just the workshop, the conference, or both, and you'll get the best discount if you sign up by August 1.